Transparency-Accountability

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DLF Government Records Transparency and Accountability Group

What is this?

This is the page for the DLF Working Group on Government Records Transparency and Accountability. Read our announcement blog post.

Mission

The DLF interest group on Government Records Transparency and Accountability seeks to support a broader culture of records transparency in the digital age. Using a range of methods, we work to provoke wide-ranging consideration of, and action related to, the creation, accessibility, and preservation of materials created by local, state, and federal governments - including records, publications, information, data, and documents. In doing this work, we act on our belief that the free flow of government information is fundamental to a democratic society and that, as such, we want to work to ensure that information created by our governments is capably preserved and freely accessible to the public.[1] The group's work is aligned with the broader mission of the Digital Library Federation, and abides by its Code of Conduct.

We also work very closely with the Endangered Data Week project. (Mark your calendars! The next Endangered Data Week is scheduled for February 25 through March 1, 2019.)

How to Join

We invite you join this Interest Group! You don’t have to be a DLF member to participate. Simply request membership in our Google Group to stay current on discussions and meeting dates. Meeting dates and minutes will also be posted to this page.

Upcoming events!

Upcoming Calls

Next Meeting: August 17, 2018 at 1pm EDT

Meeting Agenda

Please join online here (if you're new to Zoom, you may need to quickly download the software)

Or iPhone one-tap :

   US: +16468769923, 8442973484# or +16699006833, 8442973484# 

Or Telephone:

   Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
       US: +1 646 876 9923 or +1 669 900 6833 or +1 408 740 3766 
   Meeting ID: 844 297 3484 
   International numbers available: https://zoom.us/j/8442973484

Past Meetings and Events

Webinars

Past webinars. The Government Records Transparency and Accountability interest group has, on several occasions, hosted virtual educational presentations on topics related to government records transparency. These topical webinars, often featuring presentations by special guest speakers, are viewable here. Past topics have included: the importance of Federal records transparency in immigrant justice work, the Federal Census, Title 44, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). If you have an idea for a future webinar or presentation, please get in touch!

Meeting Minutes

Records relating to meetings dating back to 2017 are available from the Transparency-Accountability/Minutes page.

2017 DLF Forum Convenings

  • Panel: Government Records and Data Transparency in the Digital Age: Describing the Problem, Imagining Solutions, moderated by Rachel Mattson and featuring presentations by Emily Knox, Shari Laster, and Brit Paris. Description and notes.
  • Working Lunch: Government Records Transparency and Accountability Interest Group. Notes.

Endangered Data Week Twitter Chat

27 February 2018
As part of Endangered Data Week,, this group hosted an #EndangeredData Twitter chat hosted by @brandontlocke, @worldcatlady, @nowviskie, @captain_maybe. Endangered Data Week is a distributed event is designed to bring “awareness to different types of threats to publicly available data, engage with the power dynamics involved in data creation, sharing, and retention, and make endangered data more secure and accessible.”
Discussion questions:
  • Q1. Introductions! Tell everyone a little something about who & where you are. What motivates your interest in #EndangeredData?
  • Q2. Have you taken part in activities to preserve data or raise awareness of data stewardship? Doing anything for #EndangeredData Week?
  • Q3. How do you personally (or how does your community or organization) use or think about publicly collected/available data? #EndangeredData
  • Q4. Do you know of datasets that could be collected and made publicly available, but aren't? How could they impact you/your community/your organization? #EndangeredData
  • Q5. Are datasets that matter to you or the communities you serve under any kinds of threat? Which datasets? What makes them #EndangeredData?
  • Q6. What’s the biggest thing missing from local or national/global #EndangeredData teaching, awareness, or skills training, from your point of view?

Advocacy

Open Letters

  • In July 2018, we signed onto a public letter, initiated by the group Open the Government, that urged the US Congress to immediately investigate the administration’s records management practices relating to the “zero-tolerance” immigration enforcement policy and family reunification efforts. View the letter here. Open the Government's press release on the topic can be found here.
  • In September 2017, we co-signed the DLF's letter to the Depository Library Council, Joint Committee on Printing, and Committee on House Administration, urging careful action in revising Title 44 of the US Code.

Reflective Activities

2017 Conversations Project

In the Fall of 2017, a team of facilitators (Rachel Mattson, Brandon Locke, and Purdom Lindblad) proposed that members spend some time engaging in a series of one-one one conversations. These conversations were designed to begin to build a stronger foundation upon which our group could expand and develop, and had three principle initial goals:

  • To build a shared vocabulary.
  • To begin a process of developing stronger connections between members of this interest group - and supporting more intra-group conversation and collaboration.
  • To create an action plan for the group’s future work.

We imagined these conversations as iterative and open to group recommendations. Participants were invited to follow the steps outlined below.

Complete survey form (before September 5, 2017). To begin, we invited participants to complete a survey about what motivates them to participate in this group, what issues are of greatest concern to them, what practices they wish to share or to develop, and so on. Responses were sent to the group’s facilitators and also emailed back to the contributor in order to help prompt reflection in paired conversations.

Meet with partners (sometime before October 5, 2017). After individual surveys were completed, participating members were matched to another person in the group. Once they had the name of their partner, they reached out via email to set time and platform for shared discussion. Partners were provided with prompts to get the converation started, but were encouraged to expand on those prompts and to use whatever platform they preferred - e.g. email, Skype, or telephone.

Subsequently, participants had the opportunity to share the results of their one-on-one conversations with the larger group. We created a brief synthesis of the results here.

Other Possible Directions

The work of this group is still, always, in development, and we invite you to join us as we consider strategies for moving forward together. Some possible directions in which our endeavors might go:

  • Learn, listen, gather info, ask questions. Reach out to organizations already doing smart work in the area of government sunshine, FOIA, public records transparency, and government accountability, and learn all that we can about their work. Where are these groups putting their efforts? What are the central concerns, questions, and debates they consider to be important? Which groups do we want to make connections to? Also: what are librarians and archivists already doing in this area? How might we extend and contribute to this work?
  • Consider, discuss, and outline the ways in which this work, these questions, overlaps with our own areas of expertise and labors. How might we bring conversations about transparency and accountability into our schools, workplaces, and professional communities?
  • Consider, discuss, and work toward understanding how we might use our expertise and situated-ness to support increased public records transparency and accountability at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Share what we learn with the broader DLF and library/archives community (and beyond?).

  1. [1]Draft Mission statement announced at meeting January 23rd, 2018, accepted without changes, and posted March 2nd, 2018